88 000 displaced by series of massacres in Congo

2014-12-20 09:44

Geneva – A series of massacres in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has displaced 88 000 people, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in Geneva.

The death toll has climbed to at least 256 since October, with armed groups committing weekly attacks with machetes, UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said yesterday.

People in North Kivu province, which borders Uganda, are in need of humanitarian aid, he added.

“We are concerned that this situation could result in rising levels of malnutrition and eventually in famine if the situation is not immediately addressed,” Edwards said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has quoted UN and army officials as saying that the attacks were likely carried out by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Islamist rebels opposed to the Ugandan government that are active in the region.

However, UNHCR said it was difficult to pinpoint which group or groups in this remote area are to be held responsible.

“There is such a degree of lawlessness, and there are various rebel groups with shifting allegiances,” UNHCR spokesperson Karin de Gruijl told dpa.

She said rebels were apparently trying to terrorise the population so that they could have free reign of the resource-rich region.

UNHCR urged Congo’s government and UN peacekeepers stationed in the country to do more to protect civilians.

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